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OPINION | SHARON RANDALL: Remembering Halloweens of yesteryear fondly

by Sharon Randall | November 1, 2022 at 2:11 a.m.

If you could be anything for Halloween, what would you be?

This is a story I've told before, but it's a pretty good Halloween story, so I'm telling it again.

When I was 10, my mother said if I wanted to go trick-or-treating on Halloween, I had to take my brothers. And I also had to make our costumes.

Joe was 6, Denton was 5. We lived by a cow pasture with only four neighbors. Or three, if you didn't count the spooky house.

Why was it spooky? It was always dark, even in daylight, and I never saw a soul going in or out. It gave me the willies.

With only three houses, we'd be lucky to get a gumball. But it might be a chance for my brothers and me to have a Halloween we'd never forget.

So I rummaged around the house and found everything I needed for three costumes.

For myself, I folded a tinfoil crown to make me a princess.

For Joe, I threw a sheet over his head to make him a ghost. Joe was blind, so I didn't need to cut eye holes. He said, "This is nice, Sister! I look good!"

Denton was easy. We called him "Monkey Boy." If you saw him, you'd see why. I gave him a banana to complete the look.

Then I loaded the boys in a rusty wagon and we took off. Our first stop was at the home of a very nice lady whose house always smelled like mothballs.

If Joe got excited, he'd flick his hands, one against the other. I could tell he was flicking them under the sheet. "I hope she's got candy," he said, flick, flick, "I don't want no sorry apple!"

When she opened the door, we shouted, "Trick-or-Treat!" She put a box of fudge in our bucket, patted Joe's head and said, "What a cute little ghost!"

Joe crowed like a rooster, "I ain't a ghost! I'm a mattress!"

The next two houses were dark. But at the spooky house, someone had left a light on.

Sometimes you can be scared spitless and still take a chance. This was one of those times.

I said a quick prayer, parked the boys by the steps and knocked on the door.

No answer. Joe yelled through the sheet, "Knock louder!" So I did. Then the door creaked open and an old man stared at me.

"Trick or treat," I whispered.

"Wait," he said. He was gone so long I thought he was dead. But he came back and said, "Who's in the wagon?"

"They're my brothers, sir."

"One of them is blind?"

"Yes, sir. That's Joe in the sheet. The one with the banana is Monkey, I mean, Denton."

He nodded. "I've seen Joe pushing a tricycle in the yard."

He called out, "Hello, boys," and they replied, "Hello, Sir."

Then the old man gave me three surprises: A bar of fancy soap. A dollar bill. And a smile.

Back home, Joe said the fudge smelled like mothballs. Monkey Boy ate it all and threw up. I took a bath with the soap. It smelled like roses. And the next day I bought us a whole dollar's worth of our favorite candies.

I want to tell that story to my grandchildren. I'll see some of them for Halloween, and the others soon, I hope. I wish you could see their costumes.

Randy is 12. He and his friends will do "group" costumes as life guards and runners and such.

Wiley, 9, will be a soldier in uniform with a hard hat.

Elle, 7, will be "Dorothy" from "The Wizard of Oz."

Henry, 11, will be "The Predator" from the movie.

Charlotte is a day older than Henry. She'll be Blaze the Cat.

Archer, 5, will ride a dinosaur.

Beatrix, 3, will be Elsa from the movie "Frozen."

Jonah, who's also 3, wanted to be a stinky shoe. But his mom couldn't find a stinky shoe costume. So he will be a lion.

Leilani, at 18 months, could don wings as a fairy, but in any costume, she will be adorable.

Me? Maybe I'll wear a tinfoil crown. Or carry a banana. Or throw a sheet over my head like a queen-size mattress.

But I'll still be my usual self, in my favorite everyday costume. I call it "The Happy Nana."

Sharon Randall is the author of "The World and Then Some." She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or by email at


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